The elevator video remains imprinted on the collective conscious of football fans, even after four years have passed. For former Ravens running back Ray Rice, it was a turning point, as he told CBS This Morning on Tuesday. The recent revelations about Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt attacking a woman in a Cleveland hotel dredged up the same domestic violence that's kept Rice off the gridiron since that fateful February in 2014. But Rice wants the world to know he's changed, and it's got nothing to do with a possible return to the NFL.
"Well, see that for me, is something that I understand why it was being said early on about, you know, is this a ploy to get back into football. I'll be the first one to say it: I don't have to retire to tell you I'm done with football," Rice said in a joint interview with his wife, Janay, from their Connecticut home (listen to the full interview embedded below). "The pressure I was under of being a star, that was the person I hated the most."
The Hunt video, where he's seen pushing a woman to the ground before kicking her as she attempts to get back up, led to his dismissal from the Chiefs, but some say the 23-year-old may return. For Rice, the overlap with his own infamous incident of violence against his now-wife was impossible to avoid.
"Well, obviously, you know, you look back and you see the similarities," he told CBS. "Early on you could feel like 'Why they keep bringing my name up?' You can make excuses or you can actually do the hard work." It sounds as if Rice understands.
When talk of the former running back's own second chance comes up in the conversation, he puts the kibosh on that right away. "Somewhere down the line everybody who's sayin', 'Does he deserve a second chance for football?' And this that and the other—I actually got my second chance," Ray said. That second chance was with his wife, Janay, who still hasn't watched the video.
"I was there. I lived it," she told CBS. "I don't really need to relive it over and over again just to appease the world." It seems from the interview Ray and Janay's bond remains strong and there hasn't been a single moment of violence since that night in Atlantic City.
"And I'm not here to force people to understand," Janay said. "It was never a thought whether I was going [to] leave or not, because I knew that that wasn't him in that moment. This is somebody I've known since I was 15 years old. I knew that we had work to do, and I was willing to move forward and put in the work."
So was Ray, it seems. The NFL confirmed to CBS that Rice has shared his story as part of their domestic violence program, and he's willing to work with Hunt, Reuben Foster, or anyone else who's struggled to control their rage around women. But, they have to be willing to do the work.
"I would love to help anyone that's willing to go the long haul," Rice says.